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Protesters Focus on Effort to Occupy University Police Offices

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Nearly 3 months ago, Jason Washington, a 45 year old Navy veteran, was shot and killed by Portland State University police officers after being told by police to drop his friend’s gun during a street fight. Jason was trying to de-escalate the fight, according to witnesses and body cam footage, that started when his friend, Jeremy Wilkinson, used a racial slur and threw a stranger’s phone.

On Monday, students and protesters made demands as their rallies turned into an effort to occupy university police offices. Protesters say they will occupy the space until their demands are met: the immediate disarmament of PSU police officers, the firing of the officers involved in the case, and a permanent memorial to Jason Washington erected on campus.

During the incident on June 29th, PSU officers yelled for Washington to drop the firearm he was carrying, and as Washington walked away, the officers warned they will shoot him. The officers then fired 17 shots, 9 of which hit Washington. Washington was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived at the scene. Washington also had a concealed weapon permit.

Protesters say that there are other ways to de-escalate these situations without guns, and at the very least, they will occupy university police offices until a board of trustees meeting next week.

This was the first fatal shooting by Portland State University’s police force, which began carrying guns three years ago. The officers involved were ruled as legally justified in their actions by a grand jury earlier this month. Toxicology results showed that Washington had a blood-alcohol content of 0.24 percent when he died, three times the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving in Oregon.

A PSU spokesperson responded to the rally Monday, saying:

“Jason Washington’s death has had a profound impact on the Portland State community, and the university recognizes the right to participate in peaceful protest. PSU has hired an independent security consulting firm to review campus safety policies and procedures, which will hold a series of public forums in the upcoming weeks on this issue to provide students, faculty, staff and the public opportunities to speak. That review will study all options to protect the campus and make recommendations to President Rahmat Shoureshi and the PSU Board of Trustees. The PSU student government president and campus administrators will also send a message tomorrow to PSU students about the resources available for those searching for support or seeking opportunities to reflect on the topic.”

To learn more about the incident involving Jason Washington and the occupation of PSU police offices, click here.

To learn more about campus safety solutions, click here.

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